WRITER’S NOTE: The following is not meant to be insightful as much as it is meant to be somewhat humourous. I hope that you choose to read on just because you want to be entertained. There’s a painful admission on my part at the end… ok, several painful admissions… and during this slow Blue Jays offseason, I thought it may be nice to mix it up a bit. So take a deep breath and indulge… and then take it out on me in the comment box.
There isn’t much that makes me hate a team more than the New York Yankees. How much do I hate the Yankees? I was born in Albany, New York (I promise this isn’t the start to a life story). My grandparents–yes, my Prince Edward Island, Canadian born grandparents–bought me a Yankees hat when I was six. I proceeded to go downstairs after opening the “gift” and threw it in the garbage. I have hated the Yankees for a very long time and I was born in New York. Even more perplexing, is my father grew up in Syracuse, New York! That old fart converted to being a Red Sox fan after we moved to Rhode Island when I was three. Now to the point.
In a conversation kicked off over beer and just shooting the, well, you know–I said “You know something Dad, I don’t think the Blue Jays not signing Tanaka will be all that bad.” That spurred this pompous, arrogant, I’m-ashamed-to-call-you-my-father remark.
That’s great Just. But the Toronto Blue Jays still can’t beat the Red Sox!
Be sure to add a condescending laugh to the end of that statement. The anger immediately started to rise. I wanted to break his hip. How dare he! Suddenly, I didn’t give a rat’s behind about the Yankees anymore. I wanted Red Sox blood. I don’t mean Curt Schilling‘s bloody sock either. I mean, I want like NEWSFLASH: Tonight, the sea ran red with Red Sox Nation blood. This was not the first time I had felt this way either.
Let me take you back to a story from 2011. That would be the year I flipped my lid with this Blue Jays team. Why? Throughout May and early June, I had said to any Red Suck fan that would listen “You just wait until Bautista, Romero, Morrow, and crew take you down in Toronto.” It wasn’t long after the Blue Jays took a two game series against Boston that I decided to unleash my Blue Jays fandom defiantly on the Boston Red Sox-New York Yankee conflicted state that is Rhode Island. Perhaps I should have checked the pitching match-ups first. That would have saved me some embarrassment. It was Cecil, Morrow, and Jo Jo versus Buchholz, Fat Lackey, and Not-yet-fat Lester. If there was any hope of winning one game, it was Morrow vs Fat Lackey right? WRONG! The Red Sox outscored Toronto in that series, 35-6 (14-4 in the Morrow-Lackey match-up). That’s almost 12-2 each game! I, of course, was relentlessly ragged on. After 18 years of meaningless Septembers and Octobers, I took my sun and sweat soaked Dunedin Blue Jays fitted cap, threw it in the trash, and poured Dr.Pepper on it. Why Dr.Pepper? I was of the belief that since the Blue Jays sucked, it deserved a soda of equal suckage to be poured upon it.
I hated the Red Sox that day more than the Yankees. It was only temporary, but it still happened. I wanted to root for a team that I KNEW could beat the Red Sox. I wasn’t picking the Yankees! Baltimore was still a joke. So I picked Tampa Bay. I went all in too! I bought a powder blue hat. I bought a powder blue Rays jersey. I even threw my last name and number on the back of it. I wanted the Red Sox to eat feces. So I flew down to Tampa Bay in my Tampa Bay gear, against the Blue Jays, and to make a long story short, two crazy things happened in 2011. After Romero pitched a gem in game one of the series at the Trop, the most awkward-yet-epic night of my life occurred. That night resulted in the picture to the right. Yes, that’s legit. Yes, it has not just Jose Bautista‘s autograph on it, but also Casey Janssen‘s and Travis Snider‘s John Hancock (if you don’t know who that is, he was the first to sign the United States Declaration of Independence in a most flamboyant and memorable manner. The U.S. “joke” is to “put your John Hancock on the dotted line with an X”).
Then, the 2nd part of awesome happened. The Red Sox collapsed in September and the Rays eeked into the playoffs thanks to a no-name, named Dan Johnson. What did he do? Why he only jacked a two-strike home run off the most prolific reliever in the history of the baseball, Mariano Rivera, to tie the final regular season game at seven a piece. No big deal right? Then, the Rays 3B Evan Longoria would later hit the walk-off home run, in Joe Carter-esq fashion, that would complete the 2011 Red Sox season of Bobby Valentine suckery and allow me smile from ear-to-ear. Of course, I was back to being a Jays fan by that point. How can I not after meeting five Blue Jays players while drunkenly screaming “I’m one of the biggest Blue Jays fans not in Canada!”… while also wearing Tampa Bay Rays gear–and then some of them were kind enough to sign my hat?
So, as great of a story that was, back to the present day. The old man pissed me off! I badly wanted to show him up. That prompted this exchange.
JJ: “Dad, how can you say that? Lawrie is better than Middlebrooks! Reyes is better than Bogaerts!”
BJ (yes, those are his initials): “Don’t you mean Drew?”
JJ: “Dad, it doesn’t matter who’s at shortstop! Reyes is better than almost all of them.”
BJ: “Oh yea, well we got Pedroia at second base! Who do you have? Plus, there’s Ross and now Pierzynski behind the plate. And Pierzynski is a huge jerk Justin! He’ll probably throw Bautista’s sensitive feelings off the moment he steps up to the dish. Who’s your catcher? Ah-rencibia?”
::insert cricket sound here::
JJ: “Touche old man. I think that midget is overrated, but that’s besides the point. Just so you know, Arencibia is not the Blue Jays catcher anymore. It’s Navarro!”
BJ: “Who? And midget? Are you serious? He’s listed just a little bit taller than you!”
JJ: “Again, that’s besides the point. We got Rasmus! You lost Ellsbury to your rivals. Jackie Bradley doesn’t scare me. Victorino’s Bob Marley walk-up music isn’t going to help him outplay Bautista in right. And, oh yea! Encarnacion is greater than Napoli. We should know! We once had Napoli and then traded him away!”
BJ: “Oh good for you! How’d that work out for ya? In the last year, who’s got more World Series rings? Napoli? Or the Blue Jays? Hey! Weren’t you guys supposed to be something last season?”
JJ: “Dammit! How am I getting schooled by you! You’re drunk! It doesn’t matter! Napoli isn’t as good as Easy E. The Jays outfield is better… and… and…”
BJ: “You’re a Blue Jays fan. That’s your first problem. And then there’s the pitching staff. Game Over. Dad 1 Son 0.”
So without throwing a ton of combo-sabremetric/conventional stats at you, my old man managed to state the obvious problem here. Despite the Blue Jays looking improved, at least in terms of depth going into 2014, the pitching may still not be able to compete with the Red Sox. The old man won the debate (trust me, it’s a rarity). The Sox continue to get the better of the Blue Jays one way or another. It doesn’t seem to matter how. It just happens, either on the field or in the front office, but lately both. Even in such a simple dealing of John Farrell to Boston. Remember how we all laughed, only to watch him become a World Series Champion? The Jays landed Esmil Rogers in return (for Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes, whom Kyle Franzoni just wrote about. Don’t forget David Carpenter was also lost in all of this and he became a stud bullpen arm in Atlanta).
If that isn’t rubbing it in enough, the Red Sox pitching will. They have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to starting pitching depth. The Blue Jays have that luxury in the bullpen, but that doesn’t really mean jack squat. Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Thin John Lackey, Felix Doubront, Jake Peavy, Ryan Dempster, Brandon Workman, Henry Owens, Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranaudo, Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa… the list goes on and on and most of the names mentioned have as high of an upside, if not more so, than Marcus Stroman.
So, in a nutshell, the old man’s statement stands about Toronto. They’re going to be better in 2014, but that’s great… The Toronto Blue Jays still can’t beat the Red Sox.